Posts Tagged ‘#songwriter’

MSK Yellowstone

MSK Yellowstone

00001341

Photo by MSK Yosemite

Burning Impressions That Last Forever                                 

“Single Desire” was written in a time when I must have had a lot to say.  The year was 1988. Once love has grabbed you it can burn deep.  No matter how you want things to turn out, sometimes you have no control on the direction they take.  You find yourself helpless at the time and unable to avoid mistakes that seem obvious even to you.  Single Desire tries to describe the condition when adoration is not reciprocal.  When you are not loved in return.  Only one thing matters and nothing you can do will make it happen.

When the other person learns that type of control is in their hands, they have power that can turn lovers insane.  He/She can make the helpless romantic into a tool that can be discarded when no longer useful.  There is no cost to them.  Displays of charm and hints of affection can destroy all resistance and common sense in the admirer.

We need to wait until the fire burns out completely before we can stop following and finally walk away.  The problem is there is usually very little left to walk away with.

I tried to give this song a full arrangement as powerful as the lyrics (or the idea behind them) felt to me.  I knew I could not sing it the way it required so I called my  good friend and band-mate Gary Jefferson as I have many times over the years to do the vocal tracks.  My wife Ellen does the chorus ‘response’ vocal parts.  I used my keyboards and MIDI tone generators to do all the instrumental tracks including the drums, strings, brass and bass guitar parts, and invited my buddy Shawn Anderson to come over and lay down the lead guitar tracks. Harlen Lee, another great friend of mine, came in and added additional guitar parts.  I really like the bass guitar line, and think the strings add movement and dramatic accents to the song.

Please give “Single Desire” a few plays to let it sink in and I hope you enjoy.

I wrote this song many years ago.  It reflects ideas I had for a long time before they became lyrics to a song.  I can’t tell you how many times I have been interrupted by people coming into a dark room I was in and immediately tuning on all the lights.  Even early in my life I was concerned about so many city lights that I could not see the stars on an otherwise clear night.  There seemed to be no end to this trend.  Now I have to travel miles and miles to find a dark place outside the city lights.

earthlights3_dmsp

I only have this one recording of the song.  This happened when I introduced the song for the first time to my band mates.  We ran through this tune a couple times in the living room.  As far as I know this is the only time the song was performed, so I was lucky to get it recorded……

Though that is not strictly true as I recorded everything back then!  My friends used to give me a hard time for being so weird about that.  I always had the mics out and ready to record.  Even if we just sat around and talked, I had the reels rolling.

So while this is not a great recording and you can hear me give arrangement directions as we ran through the song, I am glad to have this copy of Brighter and Brighter.  I will have to look in my archives to find out when the lyrics were written.  At the time, my young son would want to keep his bedroom lights on at night.  Not for fear of something under the bed.  Just because he preferred it that way.  So these lyrics and the song they inspired are for him.

“Brighter and Brighter”                                  (C) MSK

Some people get off on those neon lights

Keep the sun burning to hold back the night.

Won’t give it a chance and set the darkness free

So much going on that they have to see

That they have to see.

 

Not me!

I Dig the Dark

I Dig the Dark

I Dig the Dark

 

Sign posts, traffic lights and red laser beams

Brighter and Brighter that’s the way it seems

I don’t turn yours out so don’t turn mine on

Just leave it where it is until I am gone

Until I am gone.

 

I Dig the Dark

I Dig the Dark

I Dig the Dark

 

Hide in the closet and close my eyes

It won’t help to look when the spirt flies

It’s people like you who learn to believe

Through large mushroom clouds and your big bight ideas

Yeah, all your big bright ideas.

 

Not me!

I Dig the Dark

I Dig the Dark

I Dig the Dark

____________________________________________________________

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Fortunately, when I have too many things on my plate and never seem to get to putting some of my best lyrics to music, I have many talented friends that bail me out.  Often I write poems – but almost as often I begin writing lyrics intending to put music to them at some point.  Today I will share the lyrics and the original live recording to one of my favorites.

I found myself thinking of musical relationships and what, to some, becomes a long path that never gets close to ‘stardom’, whatever that is.  The late-night conversations with many friends – musicians reflecting on the efforts and rewards involved in the lifestyle we have chosen – became metaphors in these lyrics.

The title “Stainless Steel” refers to one type of guitar strings.  I also use silk and stainless steel strings on my Ovation 12 string guitar, but Stainless Steel captured the feeling I was surrounded by when writing the lyrics.  There is a certain pride creative people get when sacrificing for their art.  So many things are put on the back-burner or postponed indefinitely to accomplish turning a dream or idea into a treasure; even if it is only for a select few to enjoy.  No one else may ever know what gems were created, and it appears to many that you have nothing to show for your time and talent.  Only a few will understand the trade-offs you have made; those sitting around with you late at night, year after year.

In this recording my good friend, the late Mark Kelsey, plays guitar and sings.  He is accompanied by Ann Ellis from my band “The Personal Touch”.  Mark has worked through the arrangement a few times and I believe this is the first time Ann had heard the song.  He quickly recorded for me to listen to and was later to record a final version in a professional studio where he lived.  This is my favorite recording and I will always think fondly of him when I hear this recording.  While the living room quality is easy to hear, the mood and inspiration comes through clearly.

In our busy lives, it is all too easy for us to overlook the efforts our friends and loved ones make for us.  Sometimes it takes far too long for us to fully appreciate those acts of love.  I have let many go unrecognized – unappreciated – unacknowledged until it was too late.  Looking back I find myself humbled to realize how much my life would have been uplifted and how many friends deserved my  – – –  I do not know the correct words, but ‘praise’ seems as close as any I can think of.   It may also have uplifted their lives in a time when they needed it most.  It can be sad and joyous when time finally reveals the reflections of our lives.

Stainless Steel”                         Lyrics by MSK, Music by Mark D Kelsey  © 1984

 

Stainless Steel Shining Bright

Broken Glass Shattered nights

When we talk, What we feel

Lights the fire Turns the Wheel

Turns the wheel

 

Stainless Steel Sharp and cold

Day by day Bought and sold

Take my hand Close your eyes

Say a prayer Throw the dice

Throw the dice

 

Waiting for a Miracle is like waiting forever

When there’s nothing else to do

I hope that someone’s out there waiting for me baby,

The way that I ‘m waiting for you

Oh Stainless Steel

 

Stainless Steel Deep within

Who we are What we’ve been

Reaching out Find ourselves

Kiss goodbye, What the hell

What the hell

 

Stainless Steel Never bends

No one blames Or defends

Smiles will fade Tears will fall

Memories of Nothing at all

Nothing at all

 

Waiting for a Miracle’s like waiting forever

When there’s nothing else to do

I hope that someone’s out there waiting for me baby,

The way that I ‘m waiting for you

Oh Stainless Steel

 

 

Bill K No Worries DSC_0065.jpg

So many experiences are composed of related stories and within each story a number of players or artists.  The telling or remembering of some stories becomes difficult before the first words are shared.  What stories do you include?  Which ones do you leave for another time, even though the knowing will make this tale more complete?  Which characters will be the focus today when so many were needed to play their part.

Too many things to share.  If that were the biggest problem we would all become happy and prosperous.  Often, your spouse is also your soul-mate.  Sometimes your boss is your friend.  Do we present the boss or the friend when the story is told?

No Worries.

I do not advertise or promote my recording studio.  Every project has been from word of mouth or referrals/introductions that happen when good people want to introduce you to other good people.  Here is a quick summary of a recent project I was fortunate to be involved with.  Through my wife, my studio and talents were offered to record and back-up a song written by Bill Kreutzjans of the band Smokin Zeus to comfort someone after the primary – election process had finally ended.  He will play acoustic guitar and sing his song, but wanted a fuller sound and maybe some harmonies.

Before he came over to record I got ready.  I listened to a recording of the song and took out the copy of the lyrics.  First; I checked the tempo of the song.  Then I “mapped out” as I call it, a detailed arrangement of the song.  Not just how many verses, bridges, and choruses but also how counting full measures, partial measures, key or tempo changes, and getting an idea of the dynamics that evolve as the song plays out.  I pull up my computer and recording software (I use Sonar, but there are many others).  I created a basic drum pattern to use as a fancy metronome.  Bill laid down his tracks listening to the drum tracks and as most artists do in a studio, he fine-tuned his sound and melody.  Very quickly we had a great foundation recorded.

This was one of those dream songs where everything dropped into place.  We all had ideas of what we wanted to add.  The equipment worked well and everything went smoothly as the song kept building.  I played each section of the song back (sometimes over and over) and used a MIDI keyboard to “record” the bass guitar parts.  Then I used the MIDI keyboard to again trigger sounds from the computer software and plug-ins, but this time I picked a natural string sound to fill around the acoustic guitar.

Good enough progress for a few hours stolen in the day, so we save and back-up files and plan to meet soon to finish.  Send rough mix mp3 so all can listen to tracks we have so far.

In the days before we meet to finalize and mix the tracks, I clean up the drums and add accents to help the song build.  The drum sounds are also provided by the software and I can trigger the individual sounds or use pre-recorded and/or user-created loops.  These ingredients can be blended, added together and shoved in the oven until you get a great loaf of bread.  I add the vocal harmonies based on previous discussions.  Now I spend some time with the mastering tools I have and process tracks using E.Q., compression,  (where needed.  I am not big on heavy compression) volume leveling, etc., and then fun stuff like reverb and stereo placement to make each part noticeable and clear.  Send rough mix mp3 so all can listen to tracks.

At this point I am playing the song over and over because I like it.  I think it sounds cool and we meet to mix and master.  I always try to get an idea how the author/performer wants the components or project to sound like.  It is a difficult language, but if I get a feel for what they want – or an example of things like it – I can usually find the ‘tone’ of the mix they are familiar with.  We pick preferences as we go and the mix continues to bake.  We blend track levels with effects and record the master mix to a stereo track      ( ….. this topic will be a series of articles in the future ).   

For all of you; “No Worries”            © Bill Kreutzjans 10/2016

 

Black1

Our banner designed by Marty Gillaspy

“Chase The Dream”

When one of the bands I worked with collapsed under the pressures of day to day life, it was quickly resurrected in a new form.  Most of Euphoria members did not want to stop playing so we regrouped with a new guitar player to replace one of the founding members and became The Chase.  We played out with about ten different names for a few months – Scenic Route was another favorite of mine – until we settled on The Chase.  These guys were great.  We had a solid rhythm section, a great lead singer and back up vocals that were tight and an amazing lead guitar player that could feel everything he played. We could play cover songs no other bands would play live.  We also threw in originals from time to time.  The banner was hung one each side of the stage vertically as seen in one of the photos below, and horizontally behind the drum set.  It was pretty eye-catching and a lot of people complimented it.

I am an archivist.  I record everything.  Audio recordings of practice sessions and live performances. Video of many performances and photos of major events.  Before YouTube I posted a number of them on our cable TV Local Access channels using their video editing suite.  I had my fingers in everything.  Some of the projects got finished, but a lot of the raw tapes have only been viewed by me and a select group of people.

I just put together a new video that uses a lot of this vintage raw video and some of the photographs from the time period.  The medium is so old that the quality suffers, but it does a good job of representing the events of the time.  We played in many clubs and outdoor events and I will create future videos to highlight more venues.   For this video I used an original instrumental song that Nick Robinson was working on and our new band, The Chase, made it our own.  There is no video of the song as we only played it out a few times.  Nicky has since re-joined Euphoria when it regrouped a few years ago and is still playing out with some amazing players.

Please check out my latest YouTube post (and other videos while you are there) of his original tune: “Chasing The Dream”.  Enjoy!

Chase The Dream

I’ve admitted in earlier posts that I observe people a lot, and that I get a number of ideas for songs from watching other people;  friends, family, co-workers, I steal from them all!  I can empathize with people as they face challenges and triumphs in life.  I try to understand what it feels like to be in those situations even though I myself might not be directly affected by them.

I also have some rather obvious political points of view.  I can understand why there are those that do not always agree with my positions but in many cases I can still understand theirs.  In this song I basically insult every group I can think of!  As you are more than likely in at least one of these groups I apologize in advance.  In a lot of ways, this song summarizes the items on my Love – Hate list.  I hate things that should work but do not, and I really hate personal and corporate greed.  The song uses a lot of references to things we would hear on the news, although it was written a long time ago.  Unfortunately most of the issues are the same today!

Recording this song took a LONG time.  We did rough mixes here and there changing this or that, but it did not feel right from beginning to end.  Eventually, I think we rearranged some of the chorus/verse structure and it just fell into place.  For some songs this is the agonizing part;  all the components are there and sound good, but the piece as a whole just does not grab you.  I might have even tried changing tempo on this one to get it right.

If this is not the first song I did using my new Alesis ADAT recorder it was one of the first.  I was also transitioning from the Atari computer to a Windows machine, so not everything went smoothly!  I played electric guitar on this one (I have a few guitars and do not know which one was used for each song but my guess this is either my Ibanez or a Yamaha 6 string) and did all the sequencing and drum tracks as described earlier.  My wife does the vocal main lines.  Using the limiter/compressor chain I described from other songs the vocals are recorded so they stay soft and spooky and a little eerie as the lyrics become more and more cynical.  A bunch of family and friends came in and did the voice add-ons.  You can hear both our daughters, my co-writing brother and a few neighbors help out with the spoken parts.  I ‘sing’ the chorus.

The bass line in this one is particularly cool because it is my Oberheim Matrix 6 synth and it has this patch or sound that continues to play an arpeggio (sequence of predetermined notes) as long as you hold a key down.  So the bass lines are done by holding one note for a while but hearing many notes played.  We even got to play with one of the audio samplers from the music store and used it to trigger the ‘broken word’ parts.   Once we got the arrangement right it was just fun to ‘decorate’ the basic tracks and add a little movement to the mix.   Have fun with this one.

MSK Moon 1

Another song of mine from the year 1988.  This was a time of emotion and passion. Learning and truly seeing things for the first time.  Life still ahead but so much of it spinning past me out of control.  In many ways the perspective is what makes our feelings push us the way they do.  The moon to some can be magical and inspiring – to others it can be bitter and unyielding.  Often the battles of the day do not end once the new morning arrives.  We often wake up to face the same struggles and disappointments that devoured the day before. Reflective, introspective, in many ways bewilderment and confusion, yet we still need to continue and choices must be made.  All too often the choices have already been made and we are forced to face the consequences; alone.

UNCHANGING MOON (c) 1982 MSK

            That was pretty easy, 

            Rings of fire spinning ‘round. 

            What is it that you see, 

            Watching the candle burn down? 

  

            Never start to finish, 

            Rather try to succeed. 

            Don’t try to understand,  

            But consider what you need. 

  

            Smiling, empty faces, 

            A swelling darkness of fear. 

            What is it that you see 

            Trapped behind each falling tear? 

  

                        CHORUS:          Power, Passion,  

                                                    Colors in tune. 

                                                    Freezing, Bitter:  

                                                    Unchanging Moon. 

  

            Today’s the beginning 

            When morning takes to flight. 

            Tomorrow’s the ending, 

            Without rescue from the fight. 

  

                        CHORUS:        Power, Passion,  

                                                  Colors in tune. 

                                                  Freezing, Bitter:  

                                                  Unchanging Moon. 

 

                                                  Power, Passion,  

                                                  Colors in tune. 

                                                  Freezing, Bitter:  

                                                  Unchanging Moon.

 

Actually, I am not sure how this one started off.  I think I first had an idea for a chord progression.  Sometimes I doodle on the guitar or keyboards and pick out chords that I like – or more importantly – chord progressions or combinations that fit together.  Anyway, I ended up with a very basic set of four chords.  I played them with a simple rhythmical structure and started to get hypnotized by the repetitious waves it produced.  The words from this poem seemed to fit easily in place.  Drifting thoughts while looking out my home office window.  A number of themes recycled in those thoughts.  Haunting.  Not yet solid or concrete.  Like looking through fog but knowing something solid is right in front of you.  Often I look back to my computer, which when idle, displays pictures I have taken of travels, friends and events.  Above are pictures of a trip to Acadia National Park that got mixed up in the meandering day dream.  I could begin my dream there, never wake up, and be perfectly happy.

That feeling inspired words that look at the relationship of the real and unreal ingredients in relationships. Opposing ideas that express the same thought.  Scared and laughing, coming to say do not leave.  Drinking but quite sober.  The lyrics allowed me to use the chord progression and sparse rhythm structure to create an eerie musical  landscape.  In some ways creating the exact opposite of the romantic feeling of the verses.

I will have the music mixed and a final version ready in the not too distant future and will post so you can understand the references, or maybe come to your own!  Here is “Felt This Way B4”.

Felt This Way B4”                                               MSK © 1-11-2005

It started off as 

Just another Day Dream 

Looking back on life. 

  

Felt this way before 

The other million times 

I’ve looked into your face. 

  

It started off as 

Just another song 

I couldn’t put in to words. 

 

I came to tell you 

Don’t go away 

I promise I’ll never leave. 

 

Take this as a gift 

From one who couldn’t live 

Without, yet lives In you. 

 

I will struggle 

But I will earn your trust 

And that will set us free. 

  

I stopped drinking but I still get drunk 

I’d be REAL happy if I’d get out of this funk. 

I never drive when I’m behind the wheel 

Many sensations I can no longer feel. 

  

It started off as 

Just another Day Dream 

Looking back on life. 

 

Felt this way before 

Scared half to death 

And I’m laughing like a clown. 

 

It started off as 

Just another song 

I couldn’t put in to words. 

  

Too much time and nowhere to go 

Then a lot of work for just a little bit of dough.

I’m a pacifist that just loves a good fight 

And  I say “Good Morning!” in the middle of the night.  

 

I stopped drinking but I still get drunk 

 And I’d be REAL happy if I’d get out of this funk. 

I never drive when I’m behind the wheel 

Many sensations I can no longer feel. 

 

It started off as

Just another Day Dream

Looking back on life.

 

Felt this way before

The other million times

I’ve looked into your face.

 

It started off as

Just another song

I couldn’t put in to words.

 

Too much time and nowhere to go

Then a lot of work for just a little bit of dough

I’m a pacifist that just loves a good fight

And  I say “Good Morning!” in the middle of the night.

For many, the family line is important if not critical throughout the world.  In countries far older than the U.S.A., blood lines have been kept in-tact through many centuries.

My generation saw the termination of our family branch.  There are plenty of Kennedy’s around, but my immediate line will end with our children.  Plenty of female daughters – that will take other names – and the few males did not produce male children.  My late mother – not a Kennedy until marriage – was concerned and saddened by this. Generations can pass along wealth, wisdom, culture and moral values to descendants to give them a head start in life and to encourage prosperity and family success.  I mixed that line of thought with some other ideas floating in my head to complete the following piece.

Broken Forever”                  © MSK 8-29-2016

No sense regretting things that I’ve done

The mother of my daughter is not the mother of my son.

The child I am raising is not from either one.

Can’t stand still and life can’t be out run

 

The reasons at the time seem to get lost

Like answers to questions and their hidden cost.

Logic and compromise quickly get tossed

Lines and barriers that should never be crossed.

 

Painful reminders surface time and again

Impossible to know where or when.

Still haven’t learned what I didn’t know then

Stop saying how things should have been.

 

The family line has come to an end

Broken forever because it could not bend

Long ago I gave up trying to pretend.

Like piles of letters I will never send.

 

Didn’t see it coming and then one day

On my doorstep and forever to stay.

Denial and tears won’t make it go away

Failing no matter how often I play.

 

A solid base of the family trees

Branches are strong and covered with leaves.

The name is gone but as everyone sees

The fruit they bear have precious seeds.

Are They All Like This?

Never into sports as a kid.  My family moved a lot as I was growing up.  One time I went to three different schools in one year.  Did not make a lot of friends.  But the people I did get a long with tended to be female.  Maybe I was more mature than other boys.  I just never understood why guys act the way they do.  Part inspired and brave, part stupid and unaware.  I have heard many conversations on this topic.  If you listen to ten different women they will have similar complaints regarding their husbands, – boyfriends, bosses, co-workers. 

We all know the saying about good guys finishing last.  But that is only the start of it. If our relationships follow many others before us, woman have so much baggage when they think about the men in their lives.  Some of them just made bad choices, but many thought they knew someone honest, kind and sincere, only to find out they are liars and jerks like all the others.

I have never been like all the others.  But so many women I know have been jaded by relationships that end in cruel and bitter melt downs.  As hard as I try in many cases I can’t get past their history.  As if all men are evil creeps in the end – they just act nice at first so they can get what they want.  The true nice guys – we don’t want anything. We see women as people, friends, partners.  We know there are strengths and weaknesses from both sexes, but together we are whole.  We see both sides.  It is hard for many women to look at us without seeing all the other failures in their past.

Those were my thoughts last weekend as I wrote “Not That Kind Of Man”.

© MSK 8/21/2016

All through school the boys would laugh at you

Say things about you they knew weren’t true

Doing what you didn’t want them to do.

Never saw life from your point of view

 

 Men at church looked you up and down

Got way too close when their wives weren’t around

More than eyes always fondling your gown

Then they dare you to make a sound.

               

The guys you knew no matter where you work

Treated you like a toy and acted like a jerk

Harassing secretaries, waitresses and clerks

As if it was one of their many perks.

 

                                I’ve never been one of them

                                I’m just not that kind of man.

                                It may take you years to forget them

                                But I hope one day you can.

 

One after another they were all the same

Just a different face and another name

Refuse to play so you take all the blame

You could never win if you played their game.

 

                                I’ve never been one of them

                                I’m just not that kind of man.

                                Soon you’ll look at me and not see them

                                I’ve never been that kind of man,

 

Husbands cheat as easily as they lie

Ask you to forgive them as they watch you cry

So many disappointments you no longer try

Curled up in bed and just wanting to die.

 

                                I’m just not that kind of man

                                What you’ve been through I understand.

                                Soon you’ll look at me and not see them

                                I’ll never be that kind of man.

 

                                I’ll never be that kind of man

                                I’ll never be that kind of man.

                                Soon you’ll look at me and not see them.   

                                I’ll never be that kind of man